Autism and Sound Sensitivity in Children

Does your child get irritated by loud noises? Did your child pay attention to some noises that you are unaware of? Does your child cover his or her ears when they hear loud noises like alarms, crackers or speakers? Does your kid like to visit quiet places like museums or libraries rather than crowded places like malls, theatres and concerts? These are some of the strong signs of sound sensitivity in children. Children with autism can often have excessive sensitivity to sound or overcrowding. Do you understand why this occurs?  Let’s learn more about sound sensitivity in children and tips and foods to manage it.

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What is Sound sensitivity ?

Autism spectrum disorder is frequently characterised by decreased sound tolerance disorders. The most typical forms of sound sensitivity are hyperacusis, misophonia and sonophobia.

Hyperacusis, which is also known as sound sensitivity is the extreme sensitivity to sounds including television, speakers, alarms, sirens, crackers etc. This can make a child feel uncomfortable and irritated.  A child who finds a sound upsetting may express their uneasiness by covering their ears, attempting to mute the source, or escaping the noisy area.

Misophonia is a response to certain noises, most frequently throwing tantrums, anger or hatred. This response can be triggered by breathing, whispering, chewing or slurping sounds.

Sonophobia is a prolonged and abnormal aversion to sound, whether it is a particular sound like an alarm or background noise in general.It may interfere with one’s sleep, focus, psychological control and also can induce stress. On the other hand, children who are not sensitive enough will not be able to fully utilise their senses.

Also check, Autism and Sensory sensitivity

Possible causes of sound sensitivity in children

Our ears can sense the vibrations in noises. Our brain may misinterpret or amplify some vibrations in case of sound sensitivity.To put it simply, when a noise is made, the brain reacts more strongly than necessary. Your child may experience a fight or flight reaction as a result of this, which is characterised by a strong sense of discomfort that something will go wrong. There is still no clear explanation for what causes sound sensitivity. Hyperacusis is not commonly inherited from birth. Typically, specific illnesses or other health problems cause it. Here are the most typical causes of sound sensitivity:

  • Brain injury
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Viral infection in the inner ear
  • Migraine
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Trauma
  • Depression
  • Surgery on the jaw

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Signs and symptoms of sound sensitivity

Children who deal with sound sensitivity may scream or cry in distress. Symptoms of sound sensitivity can differ from mild to moderate. Here are some mild signs:

  • Normal sounds being overly loud
  • Feel discomfort in ears (due to the volume of own voice)
  • Brain fog
  • Trouble focusing

Here are some severe signs of sound sensitivity:

  • Discomfort upon hearing loud noises
  • Ear bursting feeling when exposed to loud noises
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of sleep 

Also check, Early signs of Autism

Treatments and therapies for sound sensitivity

Dialectical/ Cognitive behavioural therapy

DBT is a kind of cognitive-behavioural therapy that seeks to alter behaviour by helping people acknowledge, accepting their current emotions and providing tools that can help with regulating their emotions to sounds and improving sound tolerance and mindfulness. Its main goals are teaching coping mechanisms, identifying problematic thought patterns, and regulating intense emotions to particular sounds.

Also check, Types of therapies for autism

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

When you hear ringing noise or other disturbances in your ears, it’s called tinnitus. Other people normally cannot hear the sounds you hear since it is not caused by an outside sound. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) employs a tool resembling a hearing aid. This medical device produces low-intensity sound. This can eventually assist your brain in placing less focus on the tinnitus.

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Desensitization of sound

Your child has to listen to gentle static noise for a certain period of time each day during sound desensitisation. Your kid’s tolerance level for sound or noise may progressively rise as a result of this.  To observe results, it may take up to 6 months.

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Tips to manage sound sensitivity in children

Parents can follow some strategies to manage sound sensitivity in children. Here are some effective tips to manage sound sensitivity:

1.Acknowledge the issue:

Without understanding a child’s situation, it is impossible to make adjustments for them. When you acknowledge the issue, you see that his or her behaviour is not unreasonable but instead a typical fight-or-flight reaction to prolonged exposure to noises.

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2. Find the trigger

The most crucial step is probably figuring out which sounds make your child anxious. A television, vehicle horn sound, washing machine or dishwasher noises are few examples of the triggers. If your child shows signs of discomfort when a sound first appears, list it out.

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3. Use Noise-Cancellation headphones

A set of earplugs is generally sufficient for children to block out external sounds or noises to certain points where they feel safe and relaxed. Preferably, parents should always have these with them especially when they are going out with their children to set off the reaction.

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4.Identify a quiet place

Note down the locations where your youngster feels secure and at peace. It might be meditation centres, religious places like church or temple, painting classes, library, or a walk in a park.

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5. Distractions

Diverting your child’s attention may help them cope with the intrusive sound. Engage your child in some focus building activities which can really help them to divert their focus from upsetting or unpleasant sounds.

Also check, Sensory activity for kids

6. Practice

Providing your child with a sense of control over the sound may help them cope with new sounds more easily. For example, if the vacuum cleaner makes a lot of noise, let your kid operate it. This can help your child to increase their tolerance level.

Also check, Tips to improve concentration of kids

Foods and herbs that help to manage the symptoms

1. NUTS:

Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and macadamia nuts all have unique qualities to offer. Macadamias support healthy brain functioning and pistachio nut oils store fatty acids and fight inflammation. Almonds aid with memory improvement. They all help in alleviating ASD symptoms.

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Flaxseeds are a great source of fibre and omega-3 fats. They help in enhancing the parts of the brain involved in controlling mood and cognition. Flaxseeds are best eaten ground, and can easily be added to baked goods, oatmeal, sprinkled on salads, or desserts. According to research, Muskmelon seeds help in increasing oxygen flow to the brain thereby calming and making it stress free. Seeds rich in omega-3 and Vitamin E  help in maintaining brain health.

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Ashwagandha’s most highly valued advantages includes it beneficial effects on stress, anxiety and mood. The ingredients in ashwagandha have anti-inflammatory, brain-protective, and stress-reducing properties that may shield your body from a number of ailments. Ashwagandha is offered at nutritional stores and health food markets in the forms of powder, extract, and also as supplements.

Also check, Health benefits of Ashwagandha.


According to Ayurveda, Shankhpushpi relieves tension and anxiety and helps in calming the brain. Its Medhya (improves intelligence) characteristic also helps memory by functioning as a brain tonic. Take Shankhpushpi powder with warm milk or water as it assists in improving focus and memory.  Shankhapushpi is a traditional remedy for increasing the functioning of the brain. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking Shankhapushpi have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.

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A wide variety of herbs with therapeutic properties are the center of the ayurvedic world. Brahmi is a popular herb in Ayurveda and is one of these because it can transform your health from unhealthy to highly healthy. It helps to enhance focus and memory. Some of the chemical constituents in brahmi stimulate the neural pathways involved in cognition, which aids in the development of cognitive and sensory skills. Furthermore , this plant finds its use in treating dementia, ASD and also other mental diseases like Alzheimer’s. So it helps in maintaining brain health.

Also check, More benefits of brahmi


Pure cocoa powder (unsweetened) contains brain boosting components as it is packed with a large number of antioxidants molecules, the main is epicatechin helpful to improve cognition and also speech impairment in studies. Hence cocoa powder is also an important brain development food for children and contributes in maintaining sound brain health.

Also check, Benefits of Cocoa powder.


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